back to article Brit MPs brand Facebook a 'great vampire squid' out for cash

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer was not British MPs' first choice of witness, but they certainly made the most of his appearance in Parliament, grilling him on why his firm is a "morality free zone". As part of the global Search For Truth in the ongoing Facebook data-harvesting scandal, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    OK: Facebook is a bad boy ...

    MPs (appear) to finally understand that. What about the rest of them ? How about starting with Google.

    Most of the public, unfortunately, will have tut-tutted a couple of times and continued as before.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OK: Facebook is a bad boy ...

      Most of the public, unfortunately, will have tut-tutted a couple of times and continued as before.

      Well, let's divide the public into two camps. If you sign up for a service, then you've agreed to share your data. A bit of control would be nice, but you've made your choice, and you need a way to pay for these services. If however, you haven't actually signed up, then you have no choice. As far as I've seen, all the grandstanding politicians have failed to address that second category.

      The collection of data without permission should be explicitly banned, and that ban enforced. I'm sure it is under GDPR, but I very much doubt that the collection of shadow profile data will stop because regulators like the ICO will be under-resourced to carry out the necessary investigation and enforcement. And shitbag companies like Google try and circumvent that by pop up "our agreement with you" shit, even when the user doesn't knowingly have a Google account.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: OK: Facebook is a bad boy ...

        Google try and circumvent that by pop up "our agreement with you"

        It's going to be interesting to see what happens to this under GDPR given that agreeing to extended data collection, to coin a term, can't be tied to provision of a service.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: OK: Facebook is a bad boy ...

          I block it with Greasemonkey, no way am I agreeing to that shit!

    2. 89724905708169238590784I930567034974309673434677347864785234986359235564854499631485_this_long_baby

      Re: OK: Facebook is a bad boy ...

      Google uses your information to sell targeted ads, but they don't sell your data directly, as far as I know...

  2. ukgnome Silver badge

    Not one to big up our Members of parliament

    But they sure know how to deliver when it comes to things like this.

    Compared to the yanks our politico boys and girls are full on angry but erudite bears.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Not one to big up our Members of parliament

      Yeah, and the end result is described very well in the Cook and the Cat fable.

      The cook catches the cat in the act of stealing a large slice of ham. So he starts to chastise it - You bad kittie, aren't you ashamed of yourself, how can you steal, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah... And the cat while listening continues to eat regardless (А Васька слушает да ест - in the original).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not one to big up our Members of parliament

        Video (on Facebook) or it didn't happen.

    2. SVV Silver badge

      Re: Not one to big up our Members of parliament

      Very true : when it comes to “morality free zones” and dubious integrity, you'll find that many of the Honourable Members are experts in these fields.

      1. Portalcat

        Re: Not one to big up our Members of parliament

        Agreed! Expenses scandal, anyone?

        1. The Nazz Silver badge

          Re: Not one to big up our Members of parliament

          re Agreed! Expenses scandal, anyone?

          Not to mention "flipping" one's houses. Didn't one MP lodge with their sister and flip that house a s being their own.

          And Blair? Yeah, sure, he did so much to help maintain the right to privacy, and other human rights, of people bombed out of home and homeland.

    3. Peter Ford

      Re: Not one to big up our Members of parliament

      "Effectively, though, this just amounts to giving Facebook more information - even if it’s in the negative, it's equally telling about your personality. And this speaks to the fundamental disconnect between the business and the public."

      Does anyone else see the irony of British MPs accusing someone of a disconnect between them and the public?

      I might have misread - perhaps that was only an editorial comment, rather than an actual quote from a politician, but the point is still there: one of the worst groups of people for not understanding the mood of the public is the membership of the House of Commons...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vampire Squid

    Why are they insulting the cute mostly harmless small cephalopod by comparing it to F***book.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "mostly harmless"

      Uh, tell that to the poor creatures it sucks into its beak with its horned tentacles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "mostly harmless"

        To a human at least, a vampire squid looks scary but is ultimately harmless.

        On the other hand, Facebook looks friendly at first glance, but when you look at what it's actually doing it's terrifying.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so... what are you going to do about it?

    FB and the like are leeches on society.

    how about making life really tough for them to make any money here?

    They are addiction peddlars and IMHO, need to be stopped.

    I know that this is a severe POV but having seen what FB and Twitter addicts will go through to get their hourly (or less) fixes is enough for anyone. They are to some extent worse than hard drug pushers.

    Get Zuck over here and throw him in the Tower for a few weeks. Let everyone gawp at him and then see how he likes having his whole life exposed to the world.

    If it is all right for you to not tell us what Hotel you are staying at but...

    Oh why bother ranting... He does not care one atom about us, the people who are affected by his (and other) services.

  5. wolfetone Silver badge

    "Among these were Facebook’s delay in understanding the impact of Russian influence in the US election, its "mistake" not to inform people their data had been sold to Cambridge Analytica when it first found out about it in 2015, and Schroepfer accepted the initial system for policing apps on its platforms had failed."

    But that's covered in the terms and conditions you agree to when you sign up to Facebook? That your data belongs to them and it'll be shared amongst 3rd parties. The same way your car insurance details are shared amongst 3rd parties who, inevitably, end up being cash for crash solicitors.

    Facebook are evil, Google are evil, all big corps that provide free services that centre on the processing of your data are evil.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      But that's covered in the terms and conditions you agree to when you sign up to Facebook?

      It's been well established in (English) Law that an T's & C's can't over-rule laws. So, if the T&C specify something that would be illegal under law (ie "you give up all rights pertaining to the information that you give us") then that T&C is illegal and will fail.

      The bit that matters is that Facebook gives itself the role of a data controller without any of the controls that that role requires. And that's what is going to get it into serious hot water on day 1 of GDPR..

  6. msknight Silver badge

    I don't seen this as sustainable.

    For a start, advertisers have little recourse or check on what Facebook says are adverts served. Taking out an advertising campaign with Facebook seems, to me, a case of, "Here's my wallet... take what you want."

    From a user point of view, adverts make even less sense. If I turn off adverts for politics, because I don't like politics, then that leaves people who do like politics and already have a position.... so are less likely to be affected by such adverts.

    I'm not going to change away my use of Ariel, simply because I see an advert for Persil. No... they have to do a little bit more than just show me an advert.

    I really can't understand why companies think that people with entrenched positions and loyalties, are going to be swayed by a simple advert. Give me a discount code or something, and then it might interest me... but all this advertising just seems to be so much pissing in the wind.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I don't seen this as sustainable.

      "I really can't understand why companies think that people with entrenched positions and loyalties, are going to be swayed by a simple advert."

      The advertising industry which, let's not forget, sells nothing but advertising will undoubtedly produce results showing how many people respond positively to ads. Rice-Davies applies of course.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I don't seen this as sustainable.

      "I'm not going to change away my use of Ariel, simply because I see an advert for Persil. No... they have to do a little bit more than just show me an advert."

      You just pointed out the whole point of advertising. Brand awareness. Maybe you are more likely to pick up Persil if the local shop is out of Ariel because you keep seeing Persil adverts.

  7. revenant

    "Vampire Squid"

    Can't argue with that characterisation of facebook.

    Having experienced the way in which, over the last few years, facebook has managed to turn discourse on political matters into nasty, polarised, relationship-harming propaganda shit-flinging, I would add that the term Despair Squid also applies.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Vampire Squid"

      Good to know that "vampire squid" is a acceptable parliamentary language. Maybe we'll get to hear more of it.

    2. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: "Vampire Squid"

      Nah, the despair squid is Amber Rudd. I hope she doesn't have any living relatives - for their sake.

      she's got the reverse Midas effect - everything she gets within 20yds of turns into the political equivalent of septicaemic plague..

      I take it back - the despair squid would feel totally inadequate around her..

  8. VinceH Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "As the past few weeks have shown, outside the user testing environment, people were shocked to find out just how much information Facebook holds on them and what it can be used for."

    Before spotting a funny cat video one of their friends had posted and clicking "Like" on it.

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      re VinceH

      ooooh 'eck, i've just clicked on a like (upvote) button.

      This could catch on.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "I can only tell you what’s in my heart, which is we really do want to get these things right.”"

    And by "things" he means extract-maximum-information-from-products(IE users)-before-selling-it-on-to-customers

    That I can absolutely believe he is honest about.

    Quality bit of weaseling.

    Why? What did you think he meant?

  10. Avatar of They Silver badge
    FAIL

    Bit ironic.

    MP's arguing about privacy when they approved the snoopers charter where everyone gets access to everything. (partly because Government can't secure anything from leaks)

  11. Chronos Silver badge
    FAIL

    Of glass houses and lobbed rocks

    As much as I detest Facebook and its big data peers, accusations of money-grabbing coming from that lot is about as ironic as it gets, especially when the people they're grabbing it from have no choice but to cough up to support shitty projects and Crapita|Atos|<some other bunch of bell ends> whose sole purpose is to leech off the public purse, fuck up the NHS and infest anything remotely government affiliated with a horde of clipboard-wielding numpties spouting buzzwords, arranging utterly pointless meetings, introducing rules that have no basis in reality, tripling the amount of paperwork, screwing up IT systems with needlessly complicated pet projects and generally getting in the way of the poor bastards who actually have to do some work.

    Vampire squid are predators. Big data, government and large contractors are more like parasites such as tapeworm, stealing all the nutrients and giving sod-all back except stomach cramp and a slight nausea.

  12. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    "morality free zone"

    My irony-meter has overloaded.

    1. Cheesemouse

      Re: "morality free zone"

      Indeed. It's a shame the Rt Hon Keith Vaz was not present to lecture about morals. I suspect he's busy these days though, helping out all those boys out with their rent..........or something like that.

  13. MJI Silver badge

    Also importantly

    How is Martin Lewis getting along with his case?

  14. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    How very dare they!

    I thought that spunking data to the world at large was an HM.Gov thing.

    Leaky core systems, laptops, gobby MP's etc.

    Or is it that HM.Gov is really pissed off that they haven't made nearly as much out of it as FB?

  15. peterm3

    political advertising is banned in the UK

    Hopefully the Communications Act 2003 can be used to stop political advertising on Facebook?

    It is good Government is finally standing up to these companies who pay very little tax and don't pay users for content either.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Despite the media hype and the moaning

    The UK government is more likely to screw up the life of its citizens more than FB ever will.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Road to nowhere - Politicians should ask Facebook's Advertisers to appear instead:

    Quiz them on exactly what services Zuk / Palantir / Cambridge Analytica have offered to provide. Then work backwards and extrapolate from that. Otherwise we're not getting anywhere, except Zucky PR doublespeak. Facebook executives are Sociopathic liars, in complete denial over Shadow-Profiles and Offline-Tracking of Users, plus sleazy Tracking of Non-Users, along with exchanging data with shadowy Data-Brokers etc.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity'

    Or " a boot stamping on a human face - forever'... Thiel-Palantir - Zuk - Page/Brin and Schmidt are looking down from their ivory towers and celebrating the death of the 'privacy orgasm', their boot stamping on a human face - forever'.

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